Tree following – September 2014

This month I’m looking at the willow from under it’s capacious canopy.

Willow Sep - 1The trunk is at least six feet in diameter at ground level and the surprisingly rough bark is variously coloured including shades of green, grey and a light brownish-pink. There are some noticeably large, and deep, fissures in it.

Willow Sep - 4Some branches continue almost vertically upwards whilst others have grown horizontally.

Given how large these are, and the tree is overall, I’d like to know how old this willow is.


Standing by the trunk I notice the bare ground, the shaded light and how quiet it is except for a rustling somewhere above me which maybe birds or squirrels.

Willow Sep - 7

Looking at the tree from a distance when it’s in leaf gives no indication of this secret world, and likewise standing here it’s impossible to gauge just what it looks like once outside.

For September posts by other tree followers have a look at Lucy’s post.

Happy tree following, and have a good weekend!

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Of Cabbages and Kings

Caroline Foley is well known to many allotmenteers as the author of the best selling books The Allotment Handbook and Practical Allotment Gardening.

Of Cabbages and KingsHer latest book Of Cabbages and Kings – The History of Allotments is the fascinating story of their origins through to the present day. It was published last Thursday by Frances Lincoln.

I really enjoyed reading this well illustrated book which starts with a Prologue and Introduction before the twelve chapters ranging from The Serf & the Commons 1066 – 1349 through to Post-war Doldrums & the Green Revolution 1945 to the 21st century.  To round off there is an Epilogue, Further Reading, Timeline , Index and Acknowledgements.

I’m sure that this book will appeal to anyone who’s interested in social history and as the inside front cover blurb says…One thing is certain, once you’ve read this book, you will never take your allotment for granted again. 

Readers can order this book direct from the publisher at the discounted price of £16-00 (inc. p&p in the UK, otherwise add £2-50) by phoning 01903 828503 or email to quoting the offer code APG209.

My thanks to Jessica Atkins, Marketing Manager at The Quarto Publishing Group UK, for kindly sending me a copy of this excellent book to read and review.

Happy reading!

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A popular pot plant

I’ve tried to grow Coleus blumei, a popular pot plant which has colourful leaves, several times and this was the first year that I succeeded.

I’ve grown the less common Carefree Mixture which as you see has serrated Oak-like leaves.  I had ten plants, six of which I gave away, and of the ones I’ve kept two have red, green edged leaves and two green and cream ones.  One of each colour has flowered but the spikes are rather insignificant.

Coleus 'Carefree Mixure' green & red, flowering   Coleus 'Carefree Mixture' green & cream

Next year I think that I’ll try again with Fairway, Extra Dwarf Formula Mixed, which has the more familiar leaf shape and a wider range of colours.

Have a good weekend!

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Plotting pleasurably…

is what I enjoyed doing both yesterday morning and this morning. The weather was ideal to collect seed, dead-head, dig, harvest, hoe, prune, tidy and weed.  As I worked I was tentatively thinking about what to grow and where next year, both flowers and vegetables. I want to grow less but better if that makes sense.

I stood and watched a wood pigeon drink from the water tank just across the roadway. It perched on the side, looked round at me before dipping it’s head then repeated the action several times before flying off.

Ready, steady and   Dunk

I always check the level when I arrive, and leave, to make sure it’s full to the brim. I do that so birds can drink from it and anything that falls in can hopefully get out although there is wire mesh that we put across the top. I did rescue a frog that was in it a couple of years ago.

It looks like being drizzly and dull tomorrow then dry, sunny and warmer Tuesday onwards.  Hopefully that will help my sweetcorn and tomatoes to ripen.

I did another guest blog post, Sunflowers, for Living Paintings last week which you might enjoy reading.

Have a good week!

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Red and yellow

Red and yellow tomatoesI did some plotting on Saturday and Sunday mornings but since then it’s been mostly wet so apart from picking some blackberries, runner beans and tomatoes yesterday I’ve been mooching and reading.

I received an advance copy of Of Cabbages and Kings – The History of Allotments by Caroline Foley on Tuesday which I’ve started reading, and will be reviewing here when read.


The nasturtiums are still providing lots of colour with their red and yellow flowers.

Red and yellow nasturtiums

Someone else who likes them is Caro over on The Urban Veg Patch where she’s done two excellent posts,  Edible Gardens: Nasturtiums and Edible Gardens: Nasturtium capers , recently all about them.

From tomorrow onwards the forecast is looking much better, at least through into next week, so I will hopefully be off to the plot most mornings to make the most of it.

Have a good weekend!

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I’m being lazy today…

as this post is about three friends recent posts and a new photographic website.

I’m in no doubt that CJ’s Allotment – Why is probably the best post that I’ve read about the benefits, including the more intangible ones, of plotting. As well as being so well written the photos really are excellent.

Elaine’s lovely post One of life’s gentler pursuits, also from yesterday, is about time. I read this, looked at the pictures and the word mellow sprang to mind.

Jo over on her Through the Keyhole blog did a post, Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, last Monday followed by More From Kettlewell the next day. Both feature lots of delightful pictures which made me smile.

Lastly Sunny Day’s Photography‘s website went live yesterday and I recommend having a browse at the terrific pictures in the Gallery.

It looks like being a wet and windy day tomorrow, typical August Bank Holiday weather, so I guess that I’ll be spending some of the day sofa flying reading a good book.

Rosy-pink Cosmos

Have a good week!

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It’s been cooler…

and fresher this week so I’ve been plotting every morning. It’s been mostly dry and sunny, but still breezy at times.

Last cucumber and a carrotThere has been plenty to do such as forking over the area where I grew the potatoes where I’ve been finding, and inevitably spearing,  ones I missed.

I picked the last cucumber and found this hidden carrot.

Tomatoes 'Gardener's Delight'I’m picking far more dwarf French and runner beans than I use so I’ve been giving plenty away.

I’ve picked a few yellow tomatoes but most of them, and all the red Gardener’s Delight are still green.

Sweetcorn cob silkThe sweetcorn cobs are developing nicely and have really long silks. I just hope that the squirrels don’t get to them before I do.

Nibbled courgetteThey’ve certainly been nibbling the small courgettes, which they’re welcome to do.

Happy gardening, and have a good week!

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